Orford: Hotel owned by former Hotel Inspector Ruth Watson pleased with restored hygiene rating

Ruth Watson

Ruth Watson - Credit: Archant

Top hygiene marks have been restored at a Suffolk hotel owned by food writer and broadcaster Ruth Watson after inspectors had earlier said it needed major improvement.

The Crown and Castle in Orford

The Crown and Castle in Orford - Credit: Archant

The former Hotel Inspector began legal proceedings earlier this year against a decision by Suffolk Coastal District Council to give a one-out-of-five hygiene rating to the Crown and Castle, in Orford.

The council said its decision had been based on Food Standards Agency guidelines but has since awarded top marks following a return visit to the hotel and restaurant co-owned by Mrs Watson and her husband, David, and Tim Sunderland.

Mr Watson said hygiene had never been the issue, and that the problem began when a junior chef failed to locate necessary records on the day of the original inspection.

He added: “A food safety officer’s job should be to help places comply. We think there is a major issue with consistency.

“Had Ruth or I been there to discuss concerns, it would not have been a problem. They would have known that things like maintenance were in hand and that a missing fridge magnet was due to be installed.

“We tried to persuade them to come back but they were anxious not to be seen hitting a precedent or reacting to pressure.

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“When they returned to do a proper job we were awarded full marks.

“We do not hold a grudge – we’re just pleased it’s all sorted. We think the guidelines are good but, in this instance, were subject to human fallibility in their case and in ours.”

A council spokesman said that an unannounced revisit was made in March, when the hotel was given top marks, having “demonstrated structural improvements and appeared to have satisfactory understanding of the significant hazards associated with the food handling activities”.